Unauthorized Leaks About a New Contest

By Al Kamen

Monday, October 6, 2003; Page A21

Entries have been arriving for the Loop Name That Scandal Contest -- this would be to name the brouhaha over who leaked the name of a CIA agent in an effort to defame former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV.

Suggestions included "Intimigate" and "Retaliagate."

There's but one problem. There is no such contest. Never intended to have one. The entries were submitted to reserve those names in confident anticipation of a contest. (Talk about being predictable.)

So the question now is: Will the Loop be intimidated, pressured and forced into having a Loop Name That Scandal Contest?

The answer, of course, is "yes."

Send your entries via e-mail to Intheloop@washpost.com or by mail to In the Loop, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. The top 10 entries will receive one of those beautiful In the Loop coffee mugs or T-shirts (whatever's around). Hurry. Deadline for entries is Oct. 13.

Joe and Saddam

Speaking of Wilson . . . here's a shot of him with Saddam Hussein back in happier days. The photo, which sits on a credenza in Wilson's office, was taken when he was deputy chief of mission in Baghdad in 1990, a few days after Hussein invaded Kuwait. Wilson dropped by to tell Hussein, who is wearing some very strange red boots to go with his fatigues, to get out of Kuwait. Hussein didn't.

In the picture, Hussein is chatting amiably. Maybe talking about that fine high-quality yellowcake uranium to be had down in Niger?

Correction: Iraqi Media Out of a Different Pocket

Correction: There was an error in Friday's item about the Army's program to "bequeath to the nation of Iraq and its people a world-class radio and television network," along with "an equally world-class newspaper."

We've been informed now that the money will come not from the little $20 billion slop bucket for aid to Iraq, as the item said, but rather from the $67 billion trough for military spending.

We also had some trouble last week getting even a ballpark figure for how much was budgeted for this extraordinary project. Part of the reluctance in providing that information, a Pentagon type said, was concern that The Washington Post might be a bidder. (Seriously.) We have been assured, however, that Post Chairman Donald E. Graham has no interest in running the Mosul Mercury. Word is the cost for this project, in the first year, is in the supplemental budget at a tad under $100 million.

Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is said to be most unhappy, wondering, among other things, why the Army is running this show as opposed to people who know how to do this stuff -- such as the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the Agency for International Development or the National Endowment for Democracy.

Another concern is that a Pentagon-backed media organization could easily morph into an Iraqi government propaganda ministry -- not quite the hoped-for U.S. legacy. Top U.S. officials in Baghdad say a quite robust private media has sprung up without central government interference. Even so, Army liberals apparently want government intervention.

SUVs Hit Bump in Tax Road

Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Remember those spectacular tax deductions for purchases of Hummers and other huge SUVs? The $100,000 deductions that had been intended for farmers but are being gobbled up by lawyers, doctors, accountants and consultants barely scraping by?

Well, wouldn't you know it, the Senate Finance Committee voted last week to cut the deduction to a piddling $25,000 -- back to where it was before the administration's $350 billion stimulus package stimulated record SUV sales, according to the watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense.

The committee estimates closing the loophole completely would generate nearly $1.3 billion in revenue over 10 years -- meaning those lawyers, doctors and so on are looking at a tax hike.

Worse yet, this provision is part of a larger bunch of tax hikes for patriotic Americans who evade taxes by moving businesses offshore.

The House may not go along, but better to be safe and start shopping for a new SUV.

Going and Staying

Leaving . . . Alice Fisher, deputy assistant attorney general of the criminal division, managing counterterrorism and fraud, is heading back to private practice, rejoining her old firm, Latham & Watkins, as a partner.

Not leaving . . . Amtrak President David L. Gunn has often said that if Congress doesn't like what he's doing, he can just go home to Nova Scotia.

Now he has changed his tune. Asked by a reporter last week whether he would quit if Congress doesn't give him enough money to keep the passenger railroad running, Gunn said, "Do I look like someone who quits?" He added, "I'll go down with the ship. The system and I will rise or fall together."

© 2003 The Washington Post Company